SEVARE, Mali (Reuters) – Snipers from a new West African force lie prone on a rooftop in central Mali, scanning the horizon for Islamist militants who have infiltrated this sparsely populated region south of the Sahara and made it a launchpad for deadly attacks.
Thousands of U.N. peacekeepers, French troops and U.S. military trainers and drone operators have failed to stem a growing wave of jihadist violence, leading international powers to pin their hopes on a new regional force.
G5 - Sahel - Challenges - Security - Sahel
But the so-called G5 Sahel initiative faces immense challenges if it is to do any better at bringing security to the arid Sahel region than its countries Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger have managed so far.
Security sources and analysts say too strong an emphasis on military might over tackling the underlying causes of jihad, logistical shortfalls and a lack of cooperation from regional powerhouse Algeria all raise doubts over whether the G5 can succeed where years of Western intervention has not.
Way - Capacity - Timeframe - G5 - Force
“There is a long way to go to reach full operational capacity, even though the timeframe is relatively short,” G5 force commander General Didier Dacko told visiting U.N. Security Council envoys last month, citing a range of needs from aerial support to communications equipment to intelligence gathering.
The United Nations, France and the United States have poured billions of dollars into stabilizing the region over the past 15 years but have failed to meaningfully address the many local grievances driving conflict, analysts say.
Tensions - Peace - Process - Government - Groups
Political and social tensions, such as a stalled peace process between the government and armed groups in Mali, are pushing youths to jihad, as are growing rivalries between farmers and cattle herders and rights abuses by national armies.
In northern Burkina Faso, for example, preacher Malam Ibrahim Dicko has gained adherents to his militant Ansarul Islam movement by railing against the...
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